About Thinks

Sometimes good thinks happen and sometimes bad thinks happen. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between the two.

Some thinks need immediate action and some thinks may remain as thinks forever. Thinks can be angry and heated. Thinks can be joyful. Thinks should never be cold.

These thinks are linked to many other wonderful thinks and I like to attribute these.

These thinks do not necessary reflect those thinks of my employer.

Think long, think on.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Beyond the Hall in the Wall - Mitra

I've been waiting on this one for a couple of months. Here (and in his book Beyond the Hole in the Wall) Sugata Mitra suggests that what were once known as essential skills are now becoming obsolete. He also outlines why Reading Comprehension (the 'reading' of digital sources) is most important as well as Information search and analysis skills and a rational system of belief (to protect them from future, or past, indoctrinations)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Tara's Top Ten from Ignition 2012

1. The food and the staff that worked tirelessly in the kitchen. They cleaned our plates and cups. They kept our caffeine levels up. They engaged in friendly meaningful conversations. Truly Awesome!

2. Sharee and Sharon's day two activities (world cafe and speed dating) What a fantastic way to start the day. We're definitely taking that back to school! Bravo!

3. The 'three things' introductions - an efficient way to get to know a large group of people! Clever!

4. Billy from Pakuranga High Schools iphone App session. App development need not be specialized unachievable and complicated. We CAN do it! - Inspirational!

5. Vodafone for minimally invasive sponsorship. We couldn't have come without you. - Legends!

6. Watching my friend and colleague Lisa pull out an ignition talk with very short notice where she spoke from her heart and made us all so proud - Sensational!

7. Lightbulb moment #1 via Chris Clay - Why don't we measure achievement by ones contribution to the community (whether that be a school, a teacher or a student). Brilliant!

8. Lightbulb moment #2 via Mark Osborne - Excellence is finite so why not strive for 10% better and then move on to the next 10%. It's infinite, but achievable. Say waaaaa?

9. Being there with so many people from our school. These guys are sensational and we are preparing ignite talks to present to our BOT - THIS THURSDAY! Now that's commitment!

10. And last, but certainly not least, TeacherNZ's augmented reality session where he pulled out this wee gem. I physically felt brain cells growing while endless possibilities screamed through my head. - GENIUS

Albany Senior High - if achievement is measured by contribution to the community - I think you might be on to something... Aspirational!

Looking forward to the basics

I remixed this video for an ignite talk at #ignition2012.  It explores themes of disrupting competitive standardized written assessments and looking forward to a more personalised digital assessment model. The video does stand alone but there are points missing because when presented I was speaking too.  Below is a basic overview of my thinking.

As time goes on in this rapidly changing environment, I wonder if we should be equipping our children with digital literacy and digital citizenship and prioritizing this over more traditional forms of literacy.  This way learners will be able to 'own' their assessment, identify their learning needs, and articulate and document this via digital technologies. I find it exciting to think that once basic digital literacy is established learners will be able to document and share their learning (including traditional areas such as reading, writing, maths, the arts, sport, PE) with their families, teachers, and community. Young children will learn about crucial digital citizenship issues such as creative commons, contributing educational knowledge to their communities, and being cyber smart.

This changes our teaching role significantly where instead of marking books 'after school' we have opportunities to collaborate with our learners 'live' in online environments (if, and only if,  they have the digital literacy and citizenship skills)

This will enable children to frame their learning in a more relevant cultural context as opposed to having to be assessed with standardised (and predominately Euro-centric) reading material.

Looking at this on mobile? Try this version:

Friday, April 13, 2012

OLPC - the latest headline victim

I can only hope that many will read beyond the above headline of this article that is currently doing the rounds.

If you do you will find that the outcomes of the OLPC was not about raising 'achievement' in relation to standardised test scores but to instead:

provide each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop. To this end, we have designed hardware, content and software for collaborative, joyful, and self-empowered learning. With access to this type of tool, children are engaged in their own education, and learn, share, and create together. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future.

In fact during the 'testing' it was found that the children's cognitive abilities had increased. 

Then, of course, a right hook to Sugata Mitra and Minimally Invasive Education (MIE).  But no mention of SOLES (self organised learning environments) an essential feature of the MIE pedagogy.

The article then goes on to say at the very end:

But is that failure?  It doesn't feel like pointing to standardized test scores in math and language is the right measure at all to gauge this.  It goes against the core of the OLPC mission.

So great!  Cheers for that.  That's just awesome.

Monday, April 2, 2012

OWNing it - reflection from ELS 12

I spent the weekend at the ELS. Here's my perspective.

My light-bulb, popcorn, eureka (or whatever you want to call it) moment would have to be the concept of 'ownership' vs 'buy in'. Interestingly it was one of the last sessions where this came to fruition and fortunately it made some of the earlier sessions a lot more powerful.

Fuel to my 'owning' fire came from the statement that, when using sound ownership processes, 'no decision made has been the wrong decision'.

My interpretation of this is that if all interested parties come together to make an important decision, create a model, or design a program in a genuinely collaborative way then the decision/model/programme produced will be the right one.

So what do I mean by a genuinely collaborative way? Here's some ideas that I pondered over the weekend (there will be many more).

  • The supermarket trolly design model (to be honest I was not particularly taken by this session at the time but the ownership vs buy-in statement turned that trolly right around for me)
  • The world cafe technique (I have had the pleasure of experiencing this at the 2011 emerging leaders symposium and have found it to be a powerful classroom tool ever since)
  • The idea of teachers having time allocated to using the inquiry model to enhance their practice and pedagogy (as opposed to lengthy admin meetings)
  • Providing our families (interested parties) with the same information that we have so that they can own the decisions made for their child's education programme. 
    • Show them the content of assessments rather than just the result. (I know that as a parent my illusions of test content were shattered when I saw what was actually in them). 
    • Share every accessible thing that adds to your insights around pedagogy with your families. For example, here is a Conrad Wolfram TED talk. What do you think about this in relation to your child's maths programmes?
    • I read this article - here it is.  What ideas did you take out of it?
    • I observed a child teaching himself how to use a google site in the classroom, it reminded me of this theory, what do you think of that?

Of course such dialogues and discussions would not be compulsory but the opportunity and transparency should be there for children and parents to 'own' their education and not just 'buy-in' to it. I try to do this with my blog but, on reflection, I do far too much telling and not enough asking.

Perhaps that is part of the issue I have with standards. At the end of the day we all want similar outcomes for our kids. Not many would want a system where we spit our children out at the end innumerate and illiterate. But we are told what is important and what is valued and we must 'buy-in' to this, not 'own it'.  Why not provide  opportunities so that we can explore and inquire into this ourselves? Why not let us do the learning? How about we stop wasting money on glossy publications that others have had the privileged opportunity to own and create? Would it be an easier, faster but more importantly an empowering process to give the users (i.e. me) the opportunity to 'own it' rather than trying to make me comply or 'buy-in?

And the same works for our kids. As I have mentioned in a previous post in relation to Ewan Macintosh's Problem FINDING vs SOLVING we can help our kids be better learners by giving them the space to OWN their ideas and not BUY-IN to some plan we might have slapped together on a Sunday night.

So thank you #els for inspiring me to the point where i am blogging on a SMART phone at 2:44am (apologies for typos and poor grammar) And thank you Mark Osborne for providing the ELS glue. Problem is, am I buying-in to this concept or owning it?

What do you think?